South Africans don’t need to wander to far to see what land capture, from the hands of skilled to unskilled labour, can do to a country. And while President Jacob Zuma has called on orderly land redistribution (without compensation), the knock on effects could be detrimental. South Africa already has some cases of farms being handed over, only to be turned into unprofitable, unusable pieces of land. And while no two events and outcomes are exactly the same, much can be learnt from northern neighbours Zimbabwe.
Cathy Buckle was one of the victims in Zimbabwe, the family farm was captured by war vets and turned into a pile of wasteland. And seventeen years on, she still hasn’t seen a cent from government.
Zimbabwe, in the year 2000:
“They’re coming! Hide yourself! Run!”
Those words will forever remain burned into my memory; words screamed at me exactly seventeen years ago today. Words of warning from the storekeeper on our Marondera farm just a few minutes before the marauding men arrived at the farm gate.
The men were strangers who whistled, shouted and threw bricks, saying that that this was HONDO, (war), declaring that my private property was now theirs. Not long after that scores of people swarmed over the land, took over the cattle paddocks, tree plantations and dams, knocking sticks into the ground claiming plots on our land and soon began building shacks on a farm it had taken us a decade to pay for; a farm bought 10 years after Independence with the approval of the Zimbabwe government. …
I never realized how hard farming was,” my son said to me this week and in that one sentence lies the reason that Zimbabwe is wasting so much money importing 80% of its food. Farming is hard; it needs farmers doing it, not army generals, politicians or civil servants. In March 2000, when this began, we were self sufficient in food and exported surplus to countries in the region. In March 2017 the UN says over 5 million Zimbabweans need food aid, almost half of our population.
Private property seems unfair to some, but without it no one works hard and so society’s living standard is low. Socialists have a long history of violating or not upholding private property laws, and the economy always goes into a tailspin.
hat-tip Stephen Neil